The 421 6SP: Benjie’s Cafe Racer Honda CB400F

“We find insurmountable joy in taking a bike that has long since past its last mile and reviving it to a version of itself that leaves its original life roosted in the dust,” says Benjie Flipprboi, the man behind Benjie’s Cafe Racer. Since 2004, well before the new wave custom scene kicked off, Benjie and his team have been building genre-defining cafe racers. As he eloquently put it, BCR’s favourite projects are ones that involve resurrecting old classics. So when a client approached them with a 1976 CB400F in bad shape and a vision for a custom old-school style cafe racer, they eagerly accepted the challenge.

The tired old CB400F bore the scars of time and neglect. Its outdated ’80s front end, chunky bubblegum grips, and worn-out gold 16-inch mag wheels with cracked tires told a sad story of neglect and abuse. The bodywork was all shot and close inspection of the engine revealed loose pistons, a worn-out timing chain, and badly oxidized carbs. “To be honest, the only thing the donor bike really had going for it was that it was a rare 6-speed!” Benjie admits.

With no shortage of gusto, the BCR team stripped the Honda down to its essentials. Honouring the client’s desire for an old-school aesthetic, the stock frame remained untouched aside from a clean-up, up-swept rear loop and chrome plating. Work then began on the Honda’s new look. “As with any of our vintage cafe racer builds, we started our design process with the gas tank, guided by the philosophy that the gas tank will dictate the attitude of the rest of the build and the bike itself,” says Benjie.

Drawing inspiration from the sleek curves of the ’60s, the new gas tank was hand formed from aluminium. Its broad shape accommodates the girth of the wide in-line four engine, while its elevated placement on the chassis pays homage to the race bikes of the same era. Quintessential cafe racer touches, such as a Monza gas cap and a stainless steel tank strap complete the retro-aesthetic

Next, the BCR team turned their attention to the rear end. Constructed again using aluminium, the new tail unit uses a similar style to the tank. Overhanging the sides of the rear loop it sits on the same line as the fuel tank. Integrated into the cowl is a custom-made tail light and side-mounted turn signals. The seat itself has been upholstered in black suede cowhide leather and accented with silver and grey stitching to achieve a careful curated balance of comfort and style.

With the tank and seat taking shape, focus was redirected to refining the Honda’s stance. By lowering the front end by an inch and a half, they have achieved the levelled-out stance which is synonymous with the cafe racer style.

After discarding the original disc brakes, BCR opted for a reproduction leading 4 brake drum. Forming the hub for the front wheel it has been laced to a classic alloy shouldered rim. To seamlessly integrate the new clip-on bars into the front end, BCR fabricated a set of stainless steel fork shrouds with integrated headlight ears. A clean top clamp devoid of unnecessary tabs keeps the cockpit clean while an aluminium front fender with stainless steel brackets further enhance the vintage aesthetic. A custom aluminium euro-style headlight bucket completes the front end revisions. It houses a modernized gauge from Speed Hut and essential warning lights.

The exhaust plays a crucial design role in all of BCR’s builds and the same can be said for this CB400F’s system. Meticulously crafted from stainless steel, it is a classic 4-into-2-into-1 configuration. To ensure the system looks at home on the bike the curved and tapered muffler was hand-shaped to match the lines of the tank and tail.

Dedicated to their craft, the BCR team has gone the extra mile by handcrafting many of this bike’s individual components. These include the stainless steel and aluminium switch blocks and rear set footpegs. The LED tail light and turn signals and the stainless steel electronic ignition points cover with its exposed rotor. Adding to the long list of custom-made additions are the paddock stand bobbins, ribbed air filter shroud, exhaust heat shield and countless custom brackets and hardware.

The engine was in dire condition upon arrival and demanded a complete overhaul. The oxidized engine cases demanded countless hours of attention to revive them to their former glory. Internally things didn’t look any better so the whole assembly was dismantled and rebuilt. After removing the knackered stock pistons, the BCR team bored out the cylinders and replaced them with larger 54.5mm items, effectively increasing the motor’s displacement to 466cc. Then, for steadfast reliability, they installed electronic magnetic pickup ignition points along with all new bearing and seals.

Benjie’s Cafe Racer cherish the classic and old-school not only for their appearance but for the sensory experience they offer. These motorcycles may lack the conveniences of modern alternatives but they provide a visceral riding experience that modern machines can not.

The BCR team leapt at the opportunity to breathe new life into the long-forgotten 1976 Honda CB400F. Ultimately they have delivered a remarkable cafe racer transformation which they call the “421 6SP Proj”.


Photography by Ben Chan and Dante Dizon